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I don’t think I’ve had the right pay from work. What can I do?

If you think your pay is wrong or you haven’t been paid, the best thing you can do is talk to your employer to find out why.

If you and your employer can’t agree on how much you should have been paid, you can challenge them.

You should act quickly – it’ll be much harder to get your money back after 3 months from the date the problem arose.

Check your payslip

You should start by checking your payslip, if you’ve got one. This will help you see how your pay’s been worked out. Check things like:

  • whether you’ve been paid for the number of hours you’ve actually worked
  • if you’ve been paid at the correct rate
  • if you’ve been paid for overtime, commission or bonus
  • whether you’ve been paid any sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay that you were expecting
  • if your employer has deducted any money that you weren’t expecting

If you’re an employee or a worker, you have the legal right to a payslip which shows how your pay has been worked out.  If you get paid per hour, your payslip has to show how many hours you’ve worked.

If you don’t have a payslip or your payslip doesn’t show how your pay has been worked out, ask your employer to put this right. You can check if you’re an employee or check if you’re a worker  on GOV.UK.

You can show your employer this guidance from Acas – it explains why they have to give you a payslip. If they won’t agree, you’ll need to raise a grievance with them.

Common problems:

You’ve paid too much tax

If you’ve just started a new job, you might pay tax through an emergency tax code. This could mean you get less money than you should until HM Revenue and Customs updates its records. Normally this will only be for a month or two at the most.

If you’ve been in your job for more than 3 months and think your employer has taken too much money for tax, you’ll need to check your tax code and let HMRC know if it’s wrong on GOV.UK.

Your pay will be adjusted so you pay the right amount of tax over the tax year.

You haven’t been paid for all the hours you’ve worked

If you’re paid by the hour, check that you’ve been paid for the number of hours you’ve worked in the time period your payslip covers.

If you haven’t been paid for all the hours you’ve worked, get together evidence of your completed hours. If you haven’t got your own record of your hours, you could use things like:

  • old rotas
  • clocking in records
  • emails from your employer confirming your shifts

This will help you take steps to get what you’re owed.

You haven’t been paid for a while

Your employer might be having temporary money problems, which mean they’re late paying you. If this is the case, they’ll normally tell you and will try to pay you as quickly as they can.

However, if you notice any of the following it could be a sign that your employer might never be able to pay you:

  • you’ve had no explanation for why you haven’t been paid
  • other employees haven’t been paid
  • you’ve heard that suppliers haven’t been paid

If any of these apply to you, it’s a good idea to get advice from your local Citizens Advice.

Next step: Speak to your employer

Try speaking informally to your employer if you’re having problems with your pay. You could also try speaking to your human resources or payroll department, if there is one.

Ask them to explain anything you don’t understand on your payslip or why you haven’t been paid. If you disagree with anything, explain why.

If your employer has made a genuine mistake, ask them to pay you the money you’re owed straight away. You shouldn’t have to wait until your next pay day.

If you’re not getting anywhere

Step 1: speak to a trade union

If you’re in a trade union, they might be able to negotiate with your employer for you. If you’re not in a union, find out if there’s one at your workplace that you can join. You might find details in your staff handbook, intranet or on notice boards at work.

Step 2: raise a grievance

Check if your employer has a formal grievance procedure you can use. Even if they haven’t, you can still raise a grievance – for example by writing a letter. Explain why you think you haven’t been paid enough and include copies of any evidence.

Step 3: early conciliation

If your grievance doesn’t get the result you want, you can take your employer to a tribunal. You’ll have to notify Acas first.

Acas is an organisation that provides independent support to help sort out employment disputes. They’ll see if your employer will agree to a process called ‘early conciliation’ – a way to resolve disputes without going to a tribunal.  For more information check out the Acas website.

Step 4: take your employer to a tribunal

Your last resort is to take your employer to a tribunal – think carefully before you go ahead, as it could be expensive and stressful. The deadline for this is 3 months less a day from when you should have been paid the money. (You need to have already notified Acas, gone through the early conciliation process and got an early conciliation certificate.)